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Restaurant at The Pearl Hotel

Foie Gras
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The Restaurant at The Pearl Hotel could not be more aptly named; a bit of an awkward shell at first sight, The Pearl is like an oyster - rough looking on the outside, but open up the shell, and you’re going to find a wonderful surprise.

This place is almost too difficult to describe and truly captures a distinct ambiance. You kinda have to see it to believe it. It’s loud, it’s retro, it’s small but with big vision. A great bag of tricks awaits, and patrons better be prepared and just go with it. This is not your usual night out for dinner.

The Pearl Hotel is everything a middle-class baby boomer will appreciate, recalling those cheesy motels you stayed in when visiting less-fortunate relatives. The place is small (we're talking less than 30 rooms) with all of the kitsch that you either adore or want to forget. Give it a try because there’s a lot of love going on here. It’s not just merely a creation from this throwback; they have fully anted up this iconic wonder. As artsy as it is, The Pearl really works. Oversize beach balls lazily float in the “hey-it’s-a-no-frills-motel” pool with lounge chairs and swim towels strewn about for guests. OK…we get it now…this place is hyper-cool.

We came to dine, and that was where a clash of cultures occurred. Expecting the dining area to be elsewhere, the surprise was that the restaurant was in the middle of it all with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get vibe that drew an unexpected…huh? The Restaurant at The Pearl consists of bar stools at stand-up tables and a few seatings edging the pool. You can also grab a bite in the lounge area, sitting on the floor blanketed by delicious shag carpeting with TV trays and old board games spread about. Is a picture starting to take shape?

After a disappointing encounter with the bartender (a little personality never hurt a gal), we grabbed our center-stage table and dug in for the evening's events. The lackluster first impressions fell away as soon as the charm, knowledge and sincere friendliness of Chloe, our server, drew us in. Talk about turning the tides: Her pigtails, pleasantries and sheer force of will had us at her mercy.

The Pearl’s menu is limited and complex at the same time. Ten appetizers and nine entrees with six sides comprised the whole shebang. That’s it folks. No eight-page document to scrutinize here, yet all the bases were covered. Seafood? Got it. Beef? Got it. Pork? Got it. Pasta? Got it. Veggie dish? Whatever your pleasure, The Pearl has fabulously creative offerings to satiate your taste buds.


Berkshire Pork Belly
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.


Appetizers strutted out in the form of herb-braised Berkshire pork belly (organic shell bean puree, la milpa greens, California olive oil and fried parsley gremolata - $10), popcorn bay shrimp (with fried parsley, hot pickled okra, chipotle aioli and lemon - $12), smoked hanger steak Cobb salad (house bacon, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, sieved egg and house vinaigrette - $13) and the day's special of foie gras (with crisp toast and spiced apples - $15). The pork belly rocked, evoking sublime flavors. Heavily battered shrimp still kept us popping, even though a lighter version would’ve been welcome. The luscious Cobb lacked an abundance of meat, and the foie gras could have used a little more cooking time since the consistency was a bit, well, slimy. Despite a few culinary transgressions, all four starters were very tasty morsels, and we’d order them again.


Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.


Entrees included the bone-in Berkshire pork chop (with fingerling and sage hash, sautéed spinach, St. Andre cheese and roasted fungi and pan sauce - $23). Aye Chihuahua! One of the tastiest pork chops ever. Seared Mano de Leon scallops (with sautéed organic squash, sweet corn and cherry tomato salad, fresh pesto and toasted pine nuts - $24) were gorgeously plated and equally delicious. Bolognese sauce with veal and beef over tagliatelle wowed our pasta devotee, and made us beg for a bite. Each dish created a sense of epicurean adventure from a chef with a fertile mind and great skills.

After all of that, only precious little room remained for dessert, but Chloe insisted (thanks!). How about cinnamon sugar, cayenne donut holes with a Mayan chocolate sauce? Let us tell you, it may not be pretty, but it sure does make for a perfect end to the evening.


Donut Holes
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.


You will love or hate The Pearl. More than likely, you will love it. Where else can you sit in what was once surely a nasty old motel in Point Loma, sip wonderfully selected wines and catch occasional whiffs of chlorine from the ancient pool? Did we mention that they show old movies on a big screen every night above that same pool? So fun! Singing in the Rain was showing in the background, good friends, lots of laughter, fab food…we’re moving in. Kudos to the owner for having vision, great wit, backbone and fearless creativity for breathing life back into The Pearl. Enjoy!

The Good – Cool vibe and great, creative food.

The Bad – How do we say it nicely...it’s very loud. Parking can also be an issue. Be prepared to park in a residential neighborhood and walk a few blocks.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-226-6100
  • Name: Restaurant at The Pearl
  • Address: 1410 Rosecrans Street